INMO welcomes new universal facemask policy across health service


The INMO has welcomed a change in national policy, which now mandates facemasks in all settings for any healthcare workers who provide care within 2m of a patient. 

It also applies to any of their colleagues who come within 2m for more than 15 minutes.

In practice, the INMO says this will mean nearly all frontline healthcare workers will wear facemasks.

Until now, many parts of the health service did not require or permit staff in all areas to wear this basic form of PPE.

The INMO wrote to the Chief Clinical Officer on April 3rd calling for this new measure to be rolled out, and has repeatedly made the case for it to become national policy.

Several hospitals, including the largest hospital, St. James’ Hospital, have already rolled out such a policy.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:

“This is welcome news to frontline staff and patients, which should ease some anxiety and reduce transmission of the virus.

“This should have been rolled out weeks ago, but we are glad to have finally secured this measure. It will not only benefit frontline healthcare workers, but will reduce the risk of transmission to patients.

“The next step must be ensuring sufficient supplies are available for all health workers, and continuous PPE training where needed.”



Notes to Editors

The INMO’s letter to Dr. Colm Henry (Chief Clinical Officer) on April 3rd calling for facemask policy change is here: 

The new guidance from the HPSC is below:  Guidance on the use of Surgical Masks in the Healthcare Setting in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The wording of the new official guidance is:

“Surgical masks should be worn by healthcare workers when providing care to patients within 2m of a patient, regardless of the COVID-19 status of the patient.

“Surgical masks should be worn by all healthcare workers for all encounters, of 15 minutes or more, with other healthcare workers in the workplace where a distance of 2m cannot be maintained.”



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